I always stress to my patients the importance of the special hygiene requirements they need to follow while wearing braces. I understand that having braces put on and going over all of this new information can be a bit overwhelming. However, keeping up with proper dental hygiene is critical to the success of your overall orthodontic treatment. What good does it do to straighten teeth if they are riddled with decay by the time braces come off?
In case you have forgotten, or just want to review to make sure you are hitting all of your targets for taking care of your teeth while in braces, here are the basics:
- Brush after every meal! This means you will be brushing your teeth an average of three to five times every day. If you aren’t able to brush, rinse thoroughly with water and make sure to brush as soon as you are able! Don’t forget to use 45 degree angles and brush both above and below the wire.
- Floss with a floss threader or orthodontic flosser at least once per day, but more often if you notice food or debris still present after brushing. I recommend the Platypus flosser to my patients but there are other styles and brands you can use, as long as you are cleaning around all of your brackets and wires and not leaving any food particles behind.
- If you are struggling to get the spaces in between teeth as squeaky clean as they need to be, you can also use small interdental brushes, meant to get into the small spaces between teeth.
- Rinse with a fluoride anti-cavity mouth rinse one to two times each day. This will also help kill bacteria and germs that might be hiding in places that brushes and flossers can’t reach.
It’s so important to maintain this standard of care throughout your orthodontic treatment. If you slip or skip just one of these areas, the consequences can cause lifelong damage to your teeth and gums! Brackets and wires create extra places for smile-damaging debris and germs to hide. Allowing food and bacteria to build up between teeth or around brackets can lead to cavities and in severe cases, painful and dangerous tooth abscesses. The acids from the foods you eat can cause decalcification of the teeth, weakening enamel and causing permanent staining. Allowing plaque and germs to build up along the gum line can cause inflammation of the gums and possibly cause gum tissue to recede – the beginning of gingivitis!
But, I have great news! Following the guidelines for top-notch dental care can help you prevent all of these negative consequences. If you or your child ever has any concerns about maintaining good home care or wants to review proper brushing techniques for braces, we are just a phone call away!